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Sunday, December 04, 2022

India warns citizens about safety in Canada

India warns citizens about safety in Canada - Gobierno de Michoacana

The Indian government has issued a warning to Indian citizens living in Canada about “hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities in Canada” and urged its citizens to exercise caution.

Academics and leaders of minority group organizations say the move is a clear attempt by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to suppress dissent from religious minorities abroad and flex political power.

“There has been no increase in hate crimes or attacks against Indian citizens in Canada, nothing referred to in the notice,” said Balpreet Singh, legal advisor and spokesman for the World Sikh Organization Canada.

“This is clearly a politically motivated advertisement, an attempt to cause trouble to express dissatisfaction with Canada,” he said.

The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement on Friday, saying the Indian authorities “raised up these incidents” with Canadian authorities and called for an investigation into the “crimes”.

“The perpetrators of these crimes have not yet been brought to justice in Canada,” he says.

The notice does not specifically mention any particular offense or provide information to support the claims of the government.

CTVNews.ca contacted the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and the organization does not have enough data to confirm or deny the hate crime claim, it said.

The ministry also recommends that Indian citizens, including students in Canada, register with the Indian High Commission in Ottawa or the Indian Consulate in Toronto and Vancouver, in case of emergency.

CTVNews.ca has contacted the federal government and Indian authorities for comment.

Singh said the statement was a reaction to a referendum on creating a separate homeland called Khalistan, which was held on September 18 at the Gore Meadows Community Center in Brampton.

Khalistan is a sovereign Sikh state governed according to Sikh principles, and the Indian government has characterized it as a fringe movement, Singh said.

“With over 100,000 people voting for this informal referendum last Sunday, it is too damaging to debunk the myth that this is a minor movement,” he said.

He said that India is not happy that the referendum has taken place because Canada protects freedom of expression, so Friday’s statement is another way for India to express dissatisfaction. Currently, the US-based Punjab Referendum Commission conducts plebiscites across the world.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on the country’s Independence Day from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort in New Delhi, India, Thursday, August 15, 2019 ( Associated Press Photo/Manish Swarup)

And if anything, the announcement will make more Indian students want to move to Canada, as they have more freedom to express their views as minorities, he said.

Additionally, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple was vandalized last week, which has been condemned by several groups including the World Sikh Organisation. But this “does not indicate a raging anti-Hindu problem in Canada,” he said.

Despite India’s claims that Hindus are a globally persecuted group, this is not the case, but “India is not really interested in truth or facts,” Singh said.

Canada an ‘easy target’

Chinnaiah Jangam, an associate professor in the history department of Carleton University, said the statement was a clear display of the country’s strength which is fueling the Hindu nationalist sentiments that follow Modi’s ideas and politics.

The purpose of the statement is to tell citizens living in Western countries that dissent against the Indian government will be labeled as anti-India and anti-Hindu, he explained. It also comes as groups of Hindu extremists have been protesting in Leicester, England recently, Jangam said.

He said those protests are “part of a larger network of global Hindu extremists trying to organize and intimidate people who criticize Modi.”

Jangam said that while he believed the statement was issued so that the Indian government could prevent any protest or violent action by Hindu extremists in Canada, they could blame any protest on alleged persecution against Hindus. There are no facts to support it.

He said this is part of a wider movement to suppress criticism of the Modi government. And Canada is an easy target for that, he said.

“They are trying to do it for an easy target and more importantly it is the first world country where India has a lot. Canada has a lot of Indian emigration, they are trying it to twist the muscles. Using that as a ploy,” he said.

The statement also has internal implications in India as it will boost Modi’s profile that he is “disciplining” Western countries, Jangam said.

Canada needs to take a strong stand against this type of bullying, he explained.

India’s government has come under scrutiny for jailing minorities, including Sikhs, Muslims and Christians, who have spoken out about right-wing Hindu nationalism.

The Associated Press reported in 2020 that the Modi government increasingly used colonial-era legislation on sedition and India’s enemies to silence critics.

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